You could make the argument that every one of us is in a race against time, but it might be a little more difficult to sustain that view of the Bears defense these days.
From aging and slowing to experienced and eminent, the revival of the franchise's long-time signature unit is the happiest storyline of the 2012 season.
Well, the happiest this side of Brandon Marshall's arrival as a bona fide weapon for Jay Cutler.
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It's difficult to know what to prefer about the defense: The emergence of a creatively coached line that twists and stunts and loops and games, or the arrival of multiple young candidates to complement the elder statesmen. Seven defensive lineman have been in on a sack with five having two or more.
The stars of the defense remain 30-somethings such as Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman, but there have been great contributions from younger players Henry Melton, Tim Jennings, Corey Wooten, Chris Conte, Major Wright and Stephen Paea.
A pipeline that once seemed bone dry suddenly is flowing with bubbling crude.
Any NFL team is a key injury or two away from disaster, but with a 4-1 start to their season, the Bears hit their off week projected to be NFC North champions. They seem a lock to win a minimum of 10 games and the division and might take another step forward in that quest without playing a game.
With the Vikings, Packers and Lions all underdogs on the road this week, the Bears could pick up ground while standing still.
Moreover, unlike previous seasons, the Bears aren't simply a defensive team. Much has been made of Cutler's struggle to operate within the team structure because of a couple of sideline dust-ups and his grotesque array of facial expressions. The real concern is how well Cutler will adapt to a supporting rather than starring role. Nobody wants Cutler to be a game manager, but he can't be the gunslinger either.
With Cutler, Marshall and a running game featuring Matt Forte and Michael Bush, the Bears might do better with balance than blast-off. Explosive plays are encouraged and welcomed, but protecting the ball also is essential. The secret to success in the Lovie Smith era always has been found in positive turnover ratio.
That's hardly a secret in the NFL, where teams have won roughly 69 percent of the time when they have won the turnover battle in the last 10 years. When they have won the battle by a plus-2 margin, the winning percentage reaches 84 percent.
Remarkably, since Smith took over as head coach in 2004, the Bears are 46-9 when winning the turnover battle. That's an 83.6 percentage, the same as teams with a plus-two turnover margin league-wide. Smith's teams are 17-19 when the turnover battle is even and 12-31 when they lose the differential.
The Bears currently are plus-9 in turnover differential despite Cutler's interception-ruined performance in Green Bay. That's good for third in the NFL behind the Falcons and Patriots (both plus-10). A total of 15 NFL teams currently have a positive turnover differential with only three of those — the Redskins (plus-7), Buccaneers (plus-3) and Saints (plus-1) sporting losing records.
The Bears are even better when they score a touchdown off a turnover under Smith, producing a 21-5 record, 18-2 since 2005.
It's amazing to think Tillman and Briggs have more "touchdown receptions'' than the Lions' $132 million man Calvin Johnson thus far this year. But "Megatron" has just one and the Bears defenders two apiece with interception returns. Wright also has a pick-six. While unusual, the defensive touchdowns aren't exactly unplanned.
The Bears emphasize every turnover as a potential scoring opportunity and return every loose ball in every practice the same way. They practice setting up blocks too. If a player catches the ball on the right side of the field, defenders become blockers and attempt to open a pathway down that sideline. Ditto the left side if a ball is caught there. When Tillman cut inside and then back to the outside against the Jaguars, he said he was channeling his inner Mike Brown, the former Bears safety who set an NFL record by winning back-to-back games with interception returns in overtime.
All you have to do is look at how defensive players struggle to tackle in the open field throughout the league every Sunday to understand what a real advantage it can be going against offensive players who rarely practice tackling. Special teams players come from both sides of the ball, but the majority of coverage aces are linebackers and defensive backs, not starting skill position players and rarely offensive linemen.